Bookmarked “Rewilding Your Attention” – Clive Thompson – Medium by Clive Thompson (Medium)

To find truly interesting ideas, step away from the algorithmic feeds of Big Tech

Clive Thompson unpacks Tom Critchlow’s argument for going beyond the ‘inner ring of the internet‘. This is the algorithmic flattening of creative work to instead engage with the activity of rewilding our attention.

If you want to have wilder, curiouser thoughts, you have to avoid the industrial monocropping of big-tech feeds. You want an intellectual forest, overgrown with mushrooms and towering weeds and a massive dead log where a family of raccoons has taken up residence.

I feel that the apex predator reintroduced as a part of this rewilding exercise is the question of time and productivity. We worry so much about demands and deadlines, that we fail to celebrate the things we have already done? Is the problem with doom scrolling actually the doom of the algorithmic nature of the feed, rather than the serendipity of dipping in? Or are the two forever intertwined? Is the answer ‘Twitter social distancing‘ or a reimagining of how we consume and create?

As Thompson himself attests, one answer is building up your own feeds. This is something that I have discussed here:

I am not sure whether social media will go away, but with the questions being asked of it at the moment, maybe it is time for a second coming of blogs, a possible rewilding of edtech. The reality is that technology is always changing and blogging is no different. Whatever the future is, standards such as RSS and OPML will surely play there part.

I like how Doug Belshaw frames the challenge as being in part about extending your serendpity surface. For Belshaw, the question is whether you curate your feeds or are instead curated:

read more widely and don’t settle for the “free.” algorithmically-curated, filter bubble being created for you by advertising-funded services with shareholders. We should be encouraging learners to do likewise. Doing so may take money, it may take time, it may be less convenient, but our information environments are important.

Beyond feeds, books and searches, I am also interested in sites like The Forest which add a touch of the unknown too.

However, at the end of the day, the missing piece in the rewilding exercise is people actually writing in a public square together to somehow celebrate the collective weirdness. I guess I still live in hope.

Liked Nothing Can Eat Australia’s Cane Toads—So They Eat Each Other by John Timmer, Ars Technica (WIRED)

High levels of predation tend to produce evolutionary responses to limit vulnerability, and cannibalism is no different. The researchers found that Australian toads were simply spending less of their developmental time in the vulnerable hatchling stage in order to avoid some of the impact of cannibalism.

Listened Bjork’s ‘Vespertine’ Turns 20,Vespertine Turns 20 from Stereogum

Not everybody wanted to surrender to Vespertine. Björk’s three previous albums all went gold or platinum, though it often took them years to sell that much. Vespertine never did, and neither did any of the Björk albums that followed. Even if Björk made Vespertine with Napster in mind, Napster wasn’t the reason that Vespertine didn’t become a dorm-room staple. Instead, Vespertine was a contradiction: an album of challenging serenity, an avant-garde meditation. That’s exactly why Vespertine has kept its peculiar power. On Vespertine, Björk never bothered to sound futuristic. Instead, she built a beautiful bubble, a crystalline sanctuary, and that sanctuary remains pristine.

Listened How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, by Big Red Machine from Big Red Machine

15 track album

I think that Chris Deville captures the new Big Red Machine record well:

this is not the kind of record that blows you away; it’s the kind you sit with, that becomes your trusted companion over time. Or maybe it drifts in one ear and out the other, and you move on. Such is the case with records that have traded out the explosiveness of youth for a sighing middle-aged grace.

Listened 2021 studio album by Chvrches from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Screen Violence is the fourth studio album by Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches. It was released on 27 August 2021 through EMI Records in the UK and Glassnote Records in the US.[9] Lead single “He Said She Said” was released on 19 April.[10] The album was announced alongside the second single, “How Not to Drown”, a collaboration with Robert Smith, lead singer of the Cure.[11]

Rather than catering to the trends of the moment — the wispy minimalist pop girls, the pop-punk hybridizers, the disco revivalists, whatever — the band has unlocked new dimensions within their own sound. Rather than turning to interlopers, they’ve trusted their own instincts.

Bookmarked Why are hyperlinks blue? | The Mozilla Blog by an author (

The internet has ingrained itself into every aspect of our lives, but there’s one aspect of the digital world that I bet you take for granted. Did you ev

Elise Blanchard explores the archives to find out why hyperlinks are blue. She traces it back to Mosiac, but cannot find any explanation for why. What is also strange is that there seems to have been two separate developments at the same time:

Our “link blue” had never shown up in user interfaces before 1993, and suddenly it appears in two instances within two short months of each other in two separate browsers at two different universities being built at the same time.

Blanchard believes that the real reason behind the push was Windows 3.1 and the support for colour monitors.

Mosaic came out during an important time where support for color monitors was shifting; the standard was for hyperlinks to use black text with some sort of underline, hover state or border. Mosaic chose to use blue, and they chose to port their browser for multiple operating systems. This helped Mosaic become the standard browser for internet use, and helped solidify its user interface as the default language for interacting with the web.

Bookmarked Was US failure in Afghanistan inevitable? (ABC Radio National)

The chaos of the American’s leaving and the associated logistical and humanitarian catastrophe that is now unfolding at Kabul airport, have produced two seemingly incommensurable conclusions:

  1. This proves that despite twenty years of “nation building”, international support, military training, and the expenditure of around US$2.3 trillion, the Afghan government was never going to be able to survive on its own. If the departure of US soldiers and diplomats was inevitably going to precipitate the collapse of the Afghan government, why stay?
  2. This proves that a tolerably small US presence in Afghanistan was enough to provide political and social stability (to say nothing of protection for women, girls, and vulnerable minorities), keep the Taliban “at bay”, and permit the Afghan government to find its feet. If the departure of US soldiers and diplomats was going to precipitate the collapse of the Afghan government, why not stay — at least for a little longer?

The fact that both conclusions can claim a degree of truth, and yet seem mutually exclusive, points to a deeper contradiction at the heart of the involvement of the United States and its allies in the affairs of the non-Western world.

If there is one thing that I learnt from the conversation between Stephen Wertheim, Scott Stephens and Waleed Aly and the Taliban’s retaking of Afghanistan it is that nothing is ever as simple as we might desire. Werheim sums up the situation with three problems:

The United States still faces two major problems in Afghanistan. The first is how to rescue vulnerable Afghans who wish to leave their country and settle in the United States or elsewhere. The second is how to drive a wedge between Afghanistan’s new government and al-Qaeda so as to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States. These are significant challenges, but they do not diminish the decision to withdraw.

For Americans, a third challenge may prove most important of all: coming to terms with defeat instead of indulging the fantasy that somehow, in some way, an unwinnable war could have been won.

As a Vietnamese refugee, Viet Thanh Nguyen makes the connection with the fall of Saigon in 1975, while Robin Wright wonders if it will serve as a ‘bookend for the era of U.S. global power’, an end of an era?

The fall of Kabul may serve as a bookend for the era of U.S. global power. In the nineteen-forties, the United States launched the Great Rescue to help liberate Western Europe from the powerful Nazi war machine. It then used its vast land, sea, and air power to defeat the formidable Japanese empire in East Asia. Eighty years later, the U.S. is engaged in what historians may someday call a Great Retreat from a ragtag militia that has no air power or significant armor and artillery, in one of the poorest countries in the world.

I cannot be helped but be reminded of the Old Italian Man speaking with Nately in Catch-22:

The old man laughed indulgently, holding in check a deeper, more explosive delight. His goading remained gentle. “Rome was destroyed, Greece was destroyed, Persia was destroyed, Spain was destroyed. All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you really think your own country will last? Forever? Keep in mind that the earth itself is destined to be destroyed by the sun in twenty-five million years or so.”

Nately squirmed uncomfortably. “Well, forever is a long time, I guess.”

Bookmarked Teachers use many teaching approaches to impart knowledge. Pitting one against another harms education (

There’s a variety of useful teaching models — and this includes explicit instruction — which have been designed for different purposes. It is the educator’s task to select the most appropriate given the context.

Creating simplistic binaries in a field as complex and nuanced as education impoverishes the debate.

Alan Reid raises three flaws with the argument that inquiry-based approaches harm student learning. He argues that teachers regularly move up and down the teacher-centred and student-centred continuum, that not all inquiry is the same and that the data used to form the position is problematic.

David Price touched upon the issues raised through the PISA report a few years ago:

The extreme polarisation we’re currently witnessing between ‘Traditionalists’ and Progressives’, is incredibly damaging and not representative of the teaching profession as a whole. Because the PISA hysteria that has politicians all around the world spouting nonsense, arguing for the end of inquiry-based approaches, and a return to direct-explicit instruction, sees the world in black-and-white. This polarisation ignores the reality of what goes on in the leading nations, and assumes that getting to the top of PISA is the end goal, in itself, of a successful education system.

While Peter Skillen and Brenda Sherry capture the flux in this visual:


I am also reminded of a piece I wrote a few years ago about ‘pedagogical cocktails‘:

I think that the problem is that sometimes we think that we feel that we can only partake of a particular cocktail, that someone else always knows better, therefore we should listen to them. However, this denial of choice often results in teachers who have little engagement and ownership over their curriculum and classrooms, while it also restricts many potentials and possibilities. Instead, teachers maintain a status-quo that often no longer accounts for the world that will come tomorrow, let alone we live in today.

My fear is that in restricting the debate has the risk of stunting the growth and development of teachers. Instead of taking the time to appreciate the nuance, there is a danger of teaching based on the default.

Replied to The End of Vigilance | Open Thinkering by Doug Belshaw (Open Thinkering | Doug Belshaw’s blog)

Eighteen months into this pandemic, I’m burned out as a worker, as a parent, and as a functioning member of society. My concentration span is non-existent and my anxiety levels are through the roof.

In the early weeks and months of the pandemic, there was hope that a ‘new normal’ would emerge from this mess that would give workers stronger rights, reset our collective relationship with capitalism, and would help fix the climate emergency. I was optimistic about these back then; now, not so much

Doug, sounds like you might have a case of GAFF.

Personally, I have been left thinking that it feels something like a plane going through extreme turbulence and the oxygen masks have dropped down. The problem is that there are not enough to go around because some people have grabbed two.

Not sure if that even makes sense, but not much does at the moment.

Replied to (Twitter)
Thoughts with you Cameron. Sadly, this seems to be the new gold standard:

“We are approaching 1 million jabs a week and for a population of 8 million people, that is outstanding,” the Premier said.

“Thank you. It is making a difference. We are going to show the way in Australia as to how you can live with COVID.”

Always leading the way?

Listened Link rot, pay walls and the perils of preservation from ABC Radio National

The cliché is that once something goes online, it’s up there forever. But the truth is that the Internet has a memory problem and some of what we’re losing – or could potentially lose – has significance and value. While archivists struggle with the challenge of preserving our digital record, the rise of pay walls present a particular problem.

Anthony, this is an intriguing topic. I was listening to Audrey Watters’ speak recently on digging through unsent letters that are held in archives. I imagine these days we would delete these or they would be far from public, let alone archived for future prosperity.
Liked Pluralistic: 28 Aug 2021 by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (

Network effects are how Facebook attracts users, but switching costs are how it holds them hostage.

The higher the switching costs, the bigger the shit sandwich Facebook can force you to eat before you leave.

That’s why interoperability is such a big deal – because it lowers the switching costs. If you can take your apps or friends or files or media with you when you leave a service, then the service has to treat you better, lest you depart.

Liked At best, we’re on Earth for around 4,000 weeks – so why do we lose so much time to online distraction? (

The most effective way to sap distraction of its power is to stop expecting things to be otherwise – to accept that this unpleasantness is simply what it feels like to commit ourselves to the kinds of demanding and valuable tasks that force us to confront our limited control over how our lives unfold.

Replied to Working Around Post Kinds Plugin Lock-In by Ton Zijlstra (

I’ve been using the Post Kinds plugin for a few years on this WordPress site. It allows you to easily style a specific type of posting (a like, bookmark, reply, rsvp, read, check-in etc), it automatically pulls in the relevant information form the posting you’re reacting to, and adds the right m…

Ton, I think that this is something I have been in denial about for a while. I like what Post Kinds provides me, but I have often wondered about what would happen if I decided to walk away from the Post Kinds Plugin or WordPress. I like Manton’s idea of a special export. Definitely left me thinking and realising the limits to my skills.
Listened Episode 216: Lykke Li,Song Exploder | Lykke Li from Song Exploder

“I Follow Rivers”View this post on Instagram A post shared by Song Exploder (@songexploder)LISTEN: APPLE PODCASTS · SPOTIFYLykke Li is a singer and song,Lykke Li and producer Björn Yttling break down the song, “I Follow Rivers.”

I never realised the main lead was a distorted acoustic piano.
Liked The Questions Concerning Technology by L. M. Sacasas (The Convivial Society)

A set of 41 questions drafted with a view to helping us draw out the moral or ethical implications of our tools.

  1. What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
  2. What habits will the use of this technology instill?
  3. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of time?
  4. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of place?
  5. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to other people?
  6. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to the world around me?
  7. What practices will the use of this technology cultivate?
  8. What practices will the use of this technology displace?
  9. What will the use of this technology encourage me to notice?
  10. What will the use of this technology encourage me to ignore?
  11. What was required of other human beings so that I might be able to use this technology?
  12. What was required of other creatures so that I might be able to use this technology?
  13. What was required of the earth so that I might be able to use this technology?
  14. Does the use of this technology bring me joy? [N.B. This was years before I even heard of Marie Kondo!]
  15. Does the use of this technology arouse anxiety?
  16. How does this technology empower me? At whose expense?
  17. What feelings does the use of this technology generate in me toward others?
  18. Can I imagine living without this technology? Why, or why not?
  19. How does this technology encourage me to allocate my time?
  20. Could the resources used to acquire and use this technology be better deployed?
  21. Does this technology automate or outsource labor or responsibilities that are morally essential?
  22. What desires does the use of this technology generate?
  23. What desires does the use of this technology dissipate?
  24. What possibilities for action does this technology present? Is it good that these actions are now possible?
  25. What possibilities for action does this technology foreclose? Is it good that these actions are no longer possible?
  26. How does the use of this technology shape my vision of a good life?
  27. What limits does the use of this technology impose upon me?
  28. What limits does my use of this technology impose upon others?
  29. What does my use of this technology require of others who would (or must) interact with me?
  30. What assumptions about the world does the use of this technology tacitly encourage?
  31. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about myself?
  32. What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about others? Is it good to have this knowledge?
  33. What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
  34. Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
  35. Does my use of this technology encourage me to view others as a means to an end?
  36. Does using this technology require me to think more or less?
  37. What would the world be like if everyone used this technology exactly as I use it?
  38. What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
  39. Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
  40. Does my use of this technology make it easier to live as if I had no responsibilities toward my neighbor?
  41. Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?
“Alan Jacobs” in hubris – Snakes and Ladders ()
Replied to by john john (

Given that we have just enabled blocks on Glow Blogs I am glad classic will continue to be supported. I am still on classic here too.

John, that is good news.

One of the interesting aspects to having two sites is running two different setups. I still use the Classic Editor Plugin for my Collect blog and have started tinkering with Gutenberg in my main blog. I find blocks really cumbersome and appreciate Tony Hirst’s sentiments. I actually often carve out my posts in my Collect blog and copy the contents across, but the translation to blocks can be rather frustrating. On top of that, I am not sure where it leaves Post Kinds, which I guess is the point Ton Zijlstra is trying to make.